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Who’s Afraid of $5 Branding? – The Future of the Creative Industry in the Age of Automation

Those of us in the branding industry have seen several emerging trends that appear destined to integrate permanently into the way we do business. These trends are as far-reaching and diverse as businesses embracing purposeful brand activism, to the ever-growing rise of artificial intelligence in branding strategy and execution.

Friend or Foe? Artificial Intelligence and Branding

New developments in AI, such as automation and machine learning, have already creeped into the world of brand strategy and design. Through a quick analysis of user preferences and tastes, people are using AI to analyze a user’s design style and suggest appropriate fonts and logos. It’s not hard to see the appeal: automated branding takes minutes rather than days, and costs a fraction of what a human designer would charge.

Some now fear the next stage–that using machines to design and implement branding will put human designers out of work. This sort of debate isn’t new. But, despite similar protests in the past, today all sorts of automated services, from self-checkout counters at grocery stores to electronic toll booths, are commonplace.

Conversations as well as services are becoming increasingly automated; even Facebook has introduced bots that can book you a car and order you food, and Amazon’s popular Echo can automate basic tasks in your home. Given this trend, should designers be worried?

Not really. While concern in the business world may have some merit, the use of artificial intelligence for branding is decidedly different from typical examples of machine labor. While it’s true that self-checkout counters might eventually replace human cashiers, automated branding does not replace designers, nor is it likely to. Instead, automated branding opens up doors for startups and small businesses that otherwise wouldn’t have the budget for good design. And as automated branding fills this niche, designers–who could incorporate AI into their own design strategy–could benefit.

The Democratization of Branding

Well-designed branding should not be the exclusive domain of the biggest and most successful companies. Both the gig economy and the automated creative industry are now providing opportunities for small players to get a leg up in their respective fields. As is the case with hiring freelancers from sites like Task Rabbit and others, automated design providers allow humble businesses to enjoy quality work with limited budgets. Considering the kinds of expenses new businesses face, anything that helps them achieve financial independence is a good thing.

And startups aren’t the only businesses that will benefit. Automated branding companies like Tailor Brands service everyone from soccer moms making logos for team uniforms to kids who create branding for gaming clubs. They also service freelancers, dog walkers, and people pursuing their dreams after work. Sure, machine-created logos are used for traditional marketing purposes. But, they’re also amping-up your neighbor’s hobby baking business or social media profile. It’s likely these are things that users wouldn’t have hired a professional designer to do anyway.

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Small E-com, Wanna Know Why You’re Failing?

See, the veteran drivers understand the importance of knowing what’s coming next. When they race, they know what’s after each twist and turn. This allows them to apply the perfect amount of throttle, steer in the right direction, and apply brakes precisely when needed. Without knowing what’s next, a surprise turn catches many inexperienced drivers off-guard.

You may already see where this is going. Predictive analytics is the e-commerce marketer’s equal to walking the track. Do it right and you steer your business in the right direction. Ignore predictive analytics, or underestimate its importance, and risk being left in the dust. And remember, just like walking a course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to embrace predictive analytics. Here’s everything you need to know:

The Predictive Analytics Boom and Its Impact on E-commerce Marketers Today

Steadily but surely, predictive analytics has been gaining in popularity. It’s expected to explode this year as it becomes more accessible and goes from being a competitive advantage to a necessity. To fully understand how it impacts e-commerce marketers today, first we’ve got to look back to the past.

Traditionally, predictive analytics has been reserved for top brands such as eBay and Netflix. eBay is focused on using predictive analytics to make its shopping experience better for both buyers and sellers. Indeed, eBay considered predictive analytics so important that it acquired SalesPredict to boost its AI, machine learning and data science efforts.

When a company like eBay spends millions on an acquisition for the sake of predictive analytics, e-commerce marketers must take note.

There are a couple of reasons that eBay made this move:

  • Better understanding of what their customers wanted.
  • Access to advanced insights for improving conversion rates and accelerating sales cycles.
  • More targeted offers with relevant information for buyers.
  • The ability to build-out predictive models that can define the probability of selling a given product at a given price over time.

In other words, predictive analytics answers some of the biggest challenges facing e-commerce marketers and business owners.

How to Use Predictive Analytics Like eBay Does

To achieve similar benefits to eBay, you only need to take the following four steps:

  • Track e-commerce metrics and create a one-day forecast. Then identify any deviation between the forecast and the actual metrics.
  • Determine the cause of deviations from your one-day predictions. Assuming the deviation can be minimized, take steps to do so; otherwise, use it to establish a confidence level in your predictions.
  • Create progressively longer-term predictions, ranging from one day to 18 months.
  • Use predictions to answer “what if” questions such as, “What if we increase advertising spend?” or “what if we decrease stock for this item?” and more.

Obviously, it’s easier said than done, but with the proper tools and strategy, you can be predicting the future in no time.

Overcoming Common Challenges

Predictive analytics isn’t without its challenges. For one, it can be difficult to trust the data, especially when your “gut” and past experiences may indicate otherwise. But even more challenging is doing predictive analytics right.

Ensuring Data Quality and Managing Data From Multiple Sources

Remember how the first step of using predictive analytics involved creating a one-day prediction, then testing that prediction’s accuracy? That is the key to ensuring quality data. Start small with predictive analytics and only move up to more complex/long-term predictions when you’re ready for it.

At first, your data may make a significant impact (especially if you’re still in the one-day prediction phase), but taking the time to validate predictions will ensure that your data won’t lead you astray. Validating your data is a neverending process, as well. You’ll need to put a system in place to routinely check metrics and ensure they are accurate.

One of the other common challenges is managing multiple data sources. Difficulties in multiple data sources can be minimized by utilizing a BI tool that integrates with hundreds of sources. This will ensure that all your data is kept in one place and can be easily accessed and analyzed.

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Revenue Hack/Growth Hack: The Secrets to Selling Online

In a competitive business world of big ideas and small attention spans, it is a challenge in and of itself to compel onlookers to turn into customers. What a lot of industries fail to recognize is that by giving these onlookers subtle, but very real, incentives to buy your product or service, you are substantially increasing your odds of converting sales. Below are 5 ideas as to how you can, and will, do just that:

Limited Time Offers

By pushing a limited time offer onto your potential customers, you apply a sense of pressure (but nothing invasive) to viewers who are on-the-fence about your product or service. Simply put, people feel compelled to meet deadlines, especially when there is the notion of scarcity. In this case, time is of the essence. For example, the world renowned Air Jordan sneakers have seen time and again the lengths people will go to get their hands on a limited product.

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8 Myths Uncovered about the Role of Social Media in Online Reviews

Thanks to social media and the growing prevalence of rating sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, FourSquare, and the like, consumers are gaining greater access to useful reviews that extend beyond the almighty word-of-mouth recommendation or condemnation.

Here, we’re uncovering 8 myths commonly ascribed to the role of social media in online reviews:

Myth #1: My business needs to be present on every social network

This myth is perhaps the saddest and most misinformed of the bunch—if you’re trying to rake up likes, follows, and comments across every social network and ranking platform possible, you might as well be chasing your tail, as it’ll be a never-ending game of catch-up that won’t be worth the time and effort invested. Instead of spreading yourself thin, focus on the platforms where your greatest audience segments already spend their time and interact with your business. Though your customers may be present on all such platforms, focus your time and attention on those with the greatest engagement with your brand, and respond accordingly.

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Why Everybody Needs a Personal Assistant

With each passing year, our science-fiction fantasies of yesterday are becoming fast-moving realities, unfolding right before our very eyes. As the world becomes more technologically advanced, we see a shift from personal assistants who work at home to actual AI virtual personal assistants. This engineered entity residing in software connects with humans in a human way to deliver full-fledged “virtual identities” that converse with users.

From well-known voice-powered AIs such as Apple’s Siri to upstarts like Viv, Clara Labs and x.ai, their goal is to quicken the actions you already take on your personal and business devices, growing ever-more efficient at the job by learning from your behavior.

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